So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Mt 27: 41-43)

As Jesus Christ is slowly dying, nailed to a cross, these guys are having some very clever laughs. What a chilling example of the dark side of sarcasm.

In small doses, with proper motivation and at the proper time and place, sarcasm can enhance my conversation or speech, like a strong spice can enhance a meal. But it can also ruin the “meal” or an entire relationship, when overdone or misplaced. Jesus Himself used dry, ironic humor in small doses, for example: “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?” (Jn 10: 32)

Today I am reminded to use the God-given gifts of wit and humor with care and discretion. These gifts can relieve stress, build bridges, and “break the ice” in difficult conversations, when my heart is in the right “place.” But these same gifts can also sabotage relationships: they can be used to keep relationships superficial, to avoid the vulnerability of sincere conversation, or to disguise aggression and hostility, if the latter have found a place in my heart. So, as with anything else that I do or say, let me examine my heart as to why I do or say it. Let any words or wit I use today be “spiced” with the light and salt of His grace-filled Cross.

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